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Ahh- Scales. The advantage in one's musical life. For others, they're a pain in the a....nyway. Many musicians have argued over the years over whether scales should take priority when learning to play an instrument. Here's 4 reasons why scales could give you the advantage over your fellow musos.....
Some people swear by them as the 'Holy Grail' of music. Others brush them to the side as they focus all their efforts on knowing power chords as they play copy cat for a few likes on their Socials. After your read of this blog post, you might choose to stick to your script or you'll be curious to want to learn more. Either way, I won't hate you. Each to their own...
Most modern day music wouldn't exist without scales. In fact, the past 400 years of music have been grounded on the principles of harmony and construction of sleek melody lines. How do you think these wonderful tunes were made?! Using scales of course!
Whether you refer to them as scales, modes, runs or licks- if you have knowledge of 'em-even basic, then for me, you're on to a winner.
Dive in first!
One reason scales could give you a distinct advantage over others, is that you'll be able to dive in straight away when faced with more tricky passages to play. You'll be used to the position & muscle memory for each note, and familiar with short runs of notes.
When you know your scales, & are used to a challenge of a mix of speeds- you'll cut the time you spend going over things again & again. Plus, you'll also have the immediate advantage of being able to keep up with everyone & play at a suitable speed.
If you know your scales- you'll also know your key signatures, which means you'll be able to sight read faster. Imagine being able to avoid those blips where you play a natural when it should've been a sharp..... the eyes that turn your way.... the embarrassment. Scales could save you from that!
So, you know your key signatures? Well you might not realise it- but you'll also know your relative tonality for each one too. A double win! Tidy up your knowledge of any accidentals & you'll be able to sit, content with your secret weapon, ready to unleash when required. It's always the quiet one's you gotta watch....
Chord progressions- 1,6,4,5
Know what these numbers mean? Then I'm preaching to the converted. If you don't- read on & learn! Mostly used as Roman Numerals like episodes of Star Wars (I,VI,IV,V) these chords, in different combos are the DNA of any song.
A ton of modern day soundtracks also use similar progressions as they provide the simple, yet effective platform for our modern day, mostly Western Classically trained ears across the globe.
Each number (numeral) refers to the degree of the scale. E.g. in C Major- C would be chord 1, F chord 4, G chord 5 etc. Chords 2 & 6 are Minor for most.
Take your mind off things and allow you to feel a moment to be calm.
Not just 1,6,4,5- but any progression you can think of. Scales could help give you the advantage of which chords are which.
So, great news- you know what the chord progression is. You figured out which number is which. But if you don't know which notes are in each chord, the progression's pretty useless- agreed?! Your knowledge of scales will give you the advantage of which notes are in each chord. If you know the degrees of the scale, you can figure out each triad (3- note chord)
Ultimately, scales will help to give you advanced technical ability. Whether your style is Classical, Pop, Blues, Jazz or something else. Knowledge of scales could help give you the advantage you want. Even the best performers in the world would struggle to match the technical fluency & skill of a musician who's been trained with scales.
Here's a clip from the famous guitar battle in the1986 movie 'Crossroads' to give a little extra explanation. See Ralph Macchio (of Karate Kid & Cobra Kai fame) play a character who displays his advantage of knowledge of scales against the rock legend of Steve Vai. Vai, of course had the toughest role here- to pretend that he couldn't play a part that he'd actually help to write! Epic display of technicality though.
I'd love to hear your stories of how scales have helped to give you an advantage.
Leave a comment below and let me know. Share as much detail as possible in your reply- Remember, your takeout moment may help someone else spring into action. And change their life for the better.
Important: Thoughts and ideas are to be shared directly in the comments. Links to other posts, videos, etc. will be removed.
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